On the dial are the following in print; Aux Overiers Horlogers Reunis de Besancon Below the the point where the hands are fixed on is the word Paris. The rods and the rod post are Brass, and on the rod post are the words Veritable Westminster. The rod post looks exactly like a Kienzle rod post except that it does not have the word Kienzle but instead Veritable Westminster. The case is solid hard wood and looks like Mahogany, it is carved on the face.
Purchased at a shop in France in 1972
Thank you for sending in your wall clock to mearto.com for an appraisal. I shall try to help you with that today.
Art Deco, stained walnut/walnut veneer and oak, triple barrel spring, eight day time, hourly strike and quarterly Westminster chiming “box” wall clock, ‘Veritable Carillon Westminster’ model, made and sold by Girod, in Morbier, located in the Jura Mountain region of France, circa 1930's.
CASE – I do not have the size of your case but will estimate it at 16” x 26”, stained walnut, possibly oak secondary wood, this is a rectilinear shaped “box wall clock with many Art Deco touches. The pediment like the base appears to be in multiple receding steps while the façade of the case has carved wooden leaf-like ornament which decorate the edges of the casing and flank the dial and lower glass. On the upper façade of the case is an octagonal glazed bezel for the dial. Below is an octagonal beveled glass segmental aperture divided by white metal rods into five sections. The back of the case is not shown. Access to the movement compartment is from the front door.
DIAL – An octagonal enameled white dial with upright Arabic hours (the style of the numerals on the dial is ‘late’ Art Deco), open bar minute ring to the outside with cots placed every five minutes. Of interest** are the skeletonized steel “Trilon & Perisphere” hands. The upper dial is marked, “To the Clock Workers Reunion at Besancon, Paris” (see history). There are three winding apertures.
MOVEMENT – Not shown - The gong was most likely cast by Girod in France and the base reads, “Veritable, Carillon, Westminster”. From doing such clocks I will make an educated guess that the movement is made of rectilinear brass plates with tubular steel pillars (with a pull for repeat striking on demand). There are three barrel springs, one for the eight day time train, one for the hourly strike which is attributed to three of the hammers (there are eight) and the Westminster carillon chimes which use five of the hammers. Since I cannot see the movement I cannot be 100% certain whether it was made by Girod in France or by a German maker who supplied movements to Girod before the War. A good number of these movements are marked Made in France, but many of the movements still have a German look to them with round pendulum suspensions attached with screws to the upper back plate and the general shape of the movement plates and layout of the gearing. A pendulum rod with silvered bob swings inside the case with the bob just in back of the case glass. The one sure sign of Girod’s work on their own movements is that they tend to have two vertical apertures in the back movement plate and are often not solid back plates, while the one sure sign of a German made movement is a rectilinear white metal plate, not brass. (See notes on Veritable Westminster chimes)
(1) -Veritable Westminster:
The base of many clock gongs or chimes are signed, some with phrases such as 'Au Carillon D'Or' and 'Veritable Westminster', among others.
Obviously, Veritable Westminster translates to 'Real Westminster' and Au Carillon D'or translates to 'Golden Chime'. The problem comes up when many clocks tuned to many different pitches bore one of these names cast into the base of their gong. There is no clear ownership of the terms, 'Veritable Westminster' or 'Au Carillon D'or'. Many clock companies including Girod, Kienzle, Odo, Vedette and others used them. My best guess is that most of the gong names were either German or Swiss. I doubt the English or French would use anything but a name to suggest their own culture. The German and Swiss watch and clockmakers were prone to use names that did not sound like the country where the instrument was made. This was done to help promote their products which were in constant competition with the English speaking industries in America and the British Empire.
(2) – Girod Clocks:
Girod was a clock maker based in the small town of Morbier, located in the Jura Mountains of eastern France right on the border with the Swiss and the German border nearby. They did produce clocks from the 1930’s into the 1960’s. The firm of Girod was founded in 1865 by brothers Leon and Auguste Girod. The later clocks were made almost exclusively in the Art Deco style. Girod clocks (both mantel and tall case) often came with Westminster chimes, and often a second chime named Cloche de Jura, using the same notes as the Westminster chime. A handful of clocks were built with Ave Maria de Lourdes, and St. Etienne chimes. This clock is Westminster chime only, no double chime feature unfortunately. Girod cases usually featured carved walnut appliques and were ornate but tasteful. As a result of the post-World War II German reparation effort, Kienzle clock movements were brought from Germany into the Girod factory in France, assembled and stamped as a Girod movements for possible export to English speaking countries, England, Canada and the USA as other countries.
(3) - Besancon & Watches/Clocks:
Close to the Swiss Confederation, Besançon and the entire region became a very important center for the French clockmaking industry as soon as the end of the 18th century, with the renowned "Horloges Comptoise". The watchmaking industry became, in the middle of the 20th century, an important employment sector in Besançon and Franche-Comté until the closing of LIP in the 70's, the biggest watchmaking company of Besançon. The Laboratory Time-Frequency (hosted by the Astronomical Observatory of Besançon, which was created in 1882 to support the growing local watchmaking industry). The old acquaintance of Besançon with Clocks and Time was recently formalized with the opening of the Musée du Temps (Museum of Time), located in the 16th century palace of the Granvelle family. Today, Besançon is still considered as the French capital for clocks and watches, and many companies related to the watchmaking industry are still present in Besançon and the region.
CONDITION/PRICING –Aside from some wear to the case which is quite minor this a beautiful example of French aesthetic during the second quarter of the 20th century. I think it has very fine lines, good color, good dial and a functional movement to boot. I like it very much and any problem does not rest with your clock but with the clock market. These clocks generally sell in the $150-$250 in today’s market. I am going to put it into the range of $250-$300 because it is very appealing.
I enjoyed looking into this clock for you today and I hope you have a better understanding of your box clock.